Night of the Demons (2010)
The 1980s revival is now in such swing that it’s not merely the obvious horror movies of that decade – A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing – that are getting remade or prequelised. It’s the fondly recalled cult oddities, too, like Night of the Demons. I confess: I’ve never seen the original…but I’d like to hope it has more to offer than the new version. Not that Adam Gierasch’s films is bad, per se, simply uninspired. It’s nothing more than a haunted house thrill ride, with Grand Guignol splashes of blood, an immature love of big tits and – mercifully – a touch of Sam Raimi in its wisecracking humour.
After a promising prologue, which cannily borrows the silent era’s sepia tones and intertitles to show nightmare goings-on in the 1920s, the film fast-forwards to the present day – or, at least, a horror movie’s idea of the present day. The set-up is, by anybody’s standards, dire. Guys and gals are dressing up for the big Hallowe’en party in a local abandoned mansion, and characterisation doesn’t stretch much beyond the existential dilemma of two women wearing the same slutty pussy(cat) costume. Meanwhile, weary dealer Edward Furlong, looking absolutely fucked to anybody who associates him with Terminator 2, gets a bollocking from his English drug lord, while the latter is in the middle of getting a blowjob. I should tell you at this point that the characters’ names are Colin and Nigel. Hardcore, right?
Gierasch certainly thinks so, pumping up the metal soundtrack and doing that annoying speeded-up/slowed-down thing as his camera tracks around the most cliched party scene imaginable. It’s almost a relief when the police bust the party and kick everybody out, and not only because – finally – the plot begins. Seven characters get left behind, with the gates locked and no mobile signal. As they discover the secrets of the house, they’re reminded of the urban legends about what happened in the house 85 years before. And when Shannon Elizabeth, looking absolutely fucked to anybody who associates her with American Pie, gets bitten by a skeleton (don’t ask), history is set to repeat itself.
Turns out that a posse of demons, so bad-ass they got kicked out of Hell, have woken up and – if they can possess seven souls on Hallowe’en night – they’ll be able to leave the house and destroy the world or something. And yes, there are seven actors currently running around the house. Convenient. Most are ‘turned’ pretty quickly in a variety of set-pieces as imagined by, apparently, a fourteen-year-old boy: a demonic ass-fucking, for example, or a lesbian clinch that turn into literal face-eating. So not really varied at all. At least the demons keep in character. They’ve not been around for decades, so they’re probably gagging for it.
Three survivors are left to fend for themselves, and it’s here that things pick up as Gierasch decides to rip off The Evil Dead with panicky-but-gutsy heroes facing off against their preposterous foes – and John F. Beach, as the most sarcastic of the humans, really gets into the spirit of things. From here, it’s a decent enough ride, although undermined by the inherent stupidity of the demons. Since they need seven souls, why didn’t they attack during a packed party? (Weird, supernatural stuff was certainly going on that early in the film, so it doesn’t wash that they hadn’t woken up.) And why, when the survivors discover a safe room whose walls are decked out in counter-spells, do the demons allow people to run back and forth with such little resistance? The plot continually refers to them as ‘tricksters,’ but the only folk getting tricked are the demons themselves.
Night of the Demons is out on DVD this week which, if I’m honest, is the only reason I’ve reviewed it.